This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 189. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. With the stacked card coming up on Saturday, it almost seems pointless to put this type of article together for this card. If you’re not already excited for UFC 189, you probably need to find a different sport to watch. With that in mind, this morphed into a themed ‘Five Fights’ rather quickly, as all the proponents of violence on this card are so adept that they’re able to finish in particularly impressive fashion. Even narrowing things down to fit with the week’s theme still left a ton of options (honorable mention goes to Brandon Thatch vs. Paulo Thiago, , and narrowing those down to just five was a chore, but here they are. See if you can’t figure out the commonality: 1. Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie – UFC 148 Upcoming Bout: Chad Mendes vs. Conor McGregor
It was fairly well documented that Chad Mendes took his first loss to Jose Aldo rather harshly. As such, Sean Shelby felt it wise to give the wrestler a nice bounce back fight. What few people expected however was for Mendes — who only had one career knockout heading into the McKenzie bout — to turn into one of the most devastating punchers in the featherweight division. Starting with this bout, Mendes has won 6 of his past 7 (with the only loss coming in a fight of the year with Jose Aldo), with TKO stoppages in 5 of the wins. I’d say the bounce back fight worked out for everyone but McKenzie.
2. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith 2 – Elite XC: Unfinished Business Upcoming Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2
In the spirit of Robbie Lawler’s rematch against Rory MacDonald, here’s another of his rematches. Lawler has always been an equal opportunity purveyor of violence. Whether it be punches, kicks, or knees, from the left or right side, to any target on his opponent, he just wants to hurt the man standing in front of him. That’s exactly what happened to poor Scott Smith. In the second round of their second fight, Lawler unloaded a torrent of knees to Smith’s body and head, dropping him multiple times, and finishing off with some soccer kicks to the body for good measure.
3. Thomas Almeida vs. Caio Machado – Legacy FC 32 Upcoming Bout: Thomas Almeida vs. Brad Pickett
Few fighters mix up strikes to every target on their opponent quite like Thomas Almeida. The young Brazilian is capable of unloading unwieldy combinations once he gets his opponent up against the cage, and it’s how many of his fights have finished. While that wasn’t the story in his Legacy bout against Caio Machado, he still shows both his technical brilliance and a great deal of power in the manner with which he dispatches Machado. One of these days (perhaps when he gets his first title shot) I’ll do a ‘Five Fights’ which has exclusively Almeida fights, but until that time comes you’ll just have to enjoy them one at a time.
4. Cody Garbrandt vs. Charles Standford – NAAFS Rock n Rumble 8 Upcoming Bout: Cody Garbrandt vs. Henry Briones
You remember those body punches in the Rocky movies where Rocky would lift his opponents clean off the ground? Yeah, Cody Garbrandt basically does that in real life to Charles Stanford. It was another quick fight, but it shows off a multitude of the prospect’s skills, and makes me giddy for the day where he eventually squares off with Thomas Almeida. Garbrandt has some scary power for a bantamweight, and he used it to become just the second man to TKO Marcus Brimage (the first being Conor McGregor), and I wouldn’t be shocked to see that power on full display on Saturday.
5. Neil Seery vs. Paul Marin – Cage Warriors 53 Upcoming Bout: Neil Seery vs. Louis Smolka
This isn’t Neil Seery’s most impressive performance (and may not even be his best finish), but I’m on a mission here. We only get about 80 seconds of action in this one, but Seery ends it all with a beautifully placed liver kick. Not too bad for a guy who is primarily known as a boxer. This was one the Irishman’s first bouts which really have us a taste of the fighter he would grow into — even in his mid 30’s — once he made it to the UFC, and it wasn’t a bad omen by any means.